by Allie Ann
TaleSpin and its characters are the property of Buena Vista
Television/Walt Disney Co.
The Pilot's Ball
The ballroom was packed with pilots of all ages, sizes, and species along with their guests when Baloo, sporting his new tuxedo, and Rebecca, resplendent in her flowing pink gown, stepped into the room.
Baloo, spying a lot of familiar faces, grinned. His toes tapped to the lively tune that the band was playing. "Some shindig, ain't it, Beckers?" When a waiter walked past them, the big bear yanked the tray away from him, saying, "I'll take that gar-con. Thank you."
The penguin waiter walked off, perplexed.
"Ba-loo!" Rebecca said between clenched teeth.
"What?" Baloo said with a spray of hors d'ouevres. He gulped loudly. "I remembered my manners an' thanked the man." He scooped up the rest of the hors d'ouevres and shoved them into his mouth.
"You're being rude..." Rebecca warned in a sing-song voice. She glanced around the room, embarrassed.
"Oh." Baloo looked at the empty tray, devoid of all but a few crumbs. "Did you want some, too, Becky? No problemo. I'll snag the next tray that walks by in two shakes."
Rebecca yanked on Baloo's lapels so that he was face-to-face with her. "How can you eat like that in front of all these people?"
"Easy. After spendin' two days livin' on nothin' but steam, I'm starvin'!"
"If you don't behave yourself, I'll put you on a steam diet permanently!" she said, giving him a little shake before letting go of his jacket.
"Okay, okay..." he muttered contritely, straightening his jacket.
Suddenly, there was a mass exodus towards the door. The crowd nearly knocked Baloo and Rebecca over.
"Hey, where's the fire?" Baloo wondered.
From the doorway, Ace London's voice said, "I'm here. You all can give a cheer. It's..."
A few women sighed and swooned.
"You've got that,"
Baloo groaned. "There goes the party."
Rebecca stood on tiptoe in an attempt to see over the crowd. "Ace
"Aw...not you, too," Baloo said,
disappointed. He walked over to the refreshment table and grabbed two
glasses of punch.
Rebecca accepted a glass of punch from him. "Don't tell me you're jealous, Baloo."
"Me? Jealous? Ha! It's just that Ace London is..."
"Famous?" Rebecca suggested slyly.
"Yeah." Baloo drained his glass in a single gulp.
"Admired by men and women everywhere?"
"That, too." The big bear's scowl deepened.
He glared at her. "This ain't cheerin' me up any, Becky."
Rebecca hid an amused smile. "Tell me. What do you have against Ace London?"
"Ever since me an' him were kids, Ace has been good at two things: gettin' the glory an' my goat. Whatever I did, he did better. Whatever I had, he took away from me." Angrily, he spat, "There now. Is that a good enough reason? Are ya happy?"
Thoughtfully, Rebecca said, "Obviously, you aren't."
"Oh, man! Here he comes." Baloo turned towards the refreshment table and dipped himself another glass of punch.
"If it isn't my old pal Baloo." Ace slapped Baloo on the back, causing him to spill bright red punch all over the table and floor. "How's life in the slow shipping lanes? Able to keep up?" He laughed.
"Hi, Ace," Baloo said sullenly.
"Well...helloooo," Ace London said, flashing a suave smile at Rebecca. "Aren't you going to introduce me to this lovely lady, Baloo?"
Ace kissed the petite bearess's hand. "Enchante, Rebecca."
A starry-eyed Rebecca sighed.
"Bye-bye, Becky," Baloo muttered through clenched teeth, resigning himself to losing her company.
"What's the prettiest girl at the ball doing with this big dumb galoot?"
"Watch it..." Baloo mumbled, squeezing his glass so hard that it cracked.
"How'd you like the privilege of cutting the rug with the world's best pilot?" Ace asked.
Before Rebecca could reply, Baloo cleared his throat, causing her to glance over at him. What she saw surprised her. Baloo looked...hurt? Slowly, she said, "I would love to."
Rebecca took hold of Baloo's hand. "Come on, Baloo."
Ace spluttered. He wasn't used to being refused.
"Well..." Rebecca winked at Baloo, who, in turn, grinned at her. "You said 'the world's best pilot'."
Smugly, Baloo said, "You heard the lady, Ace. Better luck next time."
Ace still looked confused as Baloo and Rebecca headed towards the dance floor.
"Becky..." Baloo said, taking her in his arms. "Why'd you...? I mean, any girl would jump at the chance to dance with Ace London. How come...?"
"I'm not just 'any girl'," Rebecca replied with a toss of her head.
"No, you ain't," Baloo agreed wholeheartedly.
"And Ace London didn't try to lose weight for my sake." She smiled up at him. "You did."
Baloo hugged her closer. "You've got that right. You an' me are gonna have a ball after all."
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